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Oath Keepers Founder Stewart Rhodes’ Son Is Running for Office—as a Democrat

Aaron Davis/Washington Post/Getty
Aaron Davis/Washington Post/Getty

Democrat Dakota Adams is mounting an uphill battle for a seat in the Montana Legislature in a deep red corner of the state. But even if his campaign fails, he expects a lifelong future in politics—drawing a stark divergence from his father, who founded the far-right Oath Keepers and is serving an 18-year sentence for conspiracy in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection.

In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Adams revealed his abusive upbringing at the hands of Stewart Rhodes, and the new path that he seeks to chart.

He said living with Rhodes was a constant process of moving around and starting over, as the Yale-educated militant convinced his family the government was spying on them and the end of days was imminent.

“We lived in extreme isolation in one particular cultural bubble in increasingly paranoid and militant right-wing political spheres everywhere we moved in the country, until eventually we ended up in Montana,” Adams said.

Oath Keepers Boss Goes on Unhinged Rant as He Awaits His Fate

When his mother divorced Rhodes in 2018, Adams was able to move out of the shadow he cast on their family. Rhodes severely undercut Adams’ and his seven siblings’ schooling and barred them from publicly talking about their home lives. Adams couldn’t complete a times table until he was 19 and has spent the last several years trying to catch up on his education—recently enrolling in several college courses.

“I don’t think I’ll ever be fully caught up to where I would have been in life if I’d had a semi-normal childhood,” he said.

He also cited Jan. 6, 2021 as a turning point in his own political awakening.

“It served as a sobering wake-up call in terms of how much danger we are truly in and how the Republican Party enabled a president to become an active danger to this republic,” he said. “I was forced to reevaluate a lot of beliefs and face hard questions about what I really stood for.”

He has plans to sell the body armor and guns he once wore to protest the government alongside his father, and he had some strong thoughts on guns and gun culture.

“American gun culture needs to be rehabilitated from an egotistical and vanity-based, hyper-individualist ego trip culture to civil service and solemn responsibility to the community,” he said. He still opposes total bans on firearms—he believed they could be necessary for the self-defense of vulnerable groups.

Many of his direct policy concerns are about making Montana livable for middle- and lower-income people. Most of the voters in his area are strongly conservative, and Adams tries to avoid sweeping cultural and social issues. He would rather focus on the challenges directly facing Montana residents.

“There has to be a consistent eye on ensuring that people can afford to still live here who are not moving in with $200,000-a-year remote jobs,” he told the AP. “If it’s too expensive to build a life in Montana, then everybody who’s trying to do that is going to leave.”

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